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Turbo charge your email with personalisation

According to Get Response’s email marketing benchmarks, 75% of emails sent to Australians are never opened, and 97% are never clicked.


It’s not quite time to cut your digital marketing budget and look for alternate engagement channels, because by personalising your emails you can double your open rate and triple your email clicks.

Introducing personalisation
Personalisation is more than just adding the name of a recipient to a subject line or email body copy - although this is scientifically proven to increase opens and clicks. Instead, personalisation is providing a recipient with an email that meets their individual needs and delivered at the time they want to read it.

This includes actioning email sends based on online and offline behaviours and predicting future questions and interests based on these behaviours and known information about your subscriber.

While this seems like a dream state for many organisations, you don’t need an army of marketers or advanced AI algorithms to serve your audience with relevant and timely emails.

Understand and segment your audience
Despite defining target markets and audiences being a staple of marketing and communications strategies, too many organisations still make the cardinal sin of treating their email subscribers as a homogeneous group.

Through very basic out-of-the-box segmentation available in all email marketing platforms, MailChimp reports that you can not only increase open rates by 14.31% and clicks by 100.95%, but you will also see fewer bounces and unsubscribes. This segmentation can include demographic data like location and job title, product or service interests, online activity such as opening previous emails, and the length of time on your email list.

While increasingly difficult to collect, the more segmentation applied to a subscriber base the more personalised messages can become.

More advanced segmentation can also include psychographic information such as purchase intent, lifestyle, personality traits, and interests as well as more insightful demographic variables such as role in purchasing decision, and behavioural information collected over a longer period of time.

Sending emails that are more likely to be clicked
No, we’re not going to talk about what time and day to send your emails - hint, it doesn’t make a difference at a macro level. Instead, we want to send emails as often as possible to individuals at a time when we know they are more likely to open and click them.

Triggered emails - those which are sent immediately or scheduled a set period of time after a subscriber takes an action - allow email marketers to predict when a user is online and actively looking for help in solving a problem. According to Yes Lifestyle Marketing’s Email Benchmark Report, in Q4 2017, triggered emails generated more than double the open rate of standard messages and almost triple the clicks.

"Triggered emails are clicked 264% more than non-triggered emails."

While the most common type of triggered emails are sent when a subscriber visits a website, or clicks or opens an email, they can also be sent on anniversaries (e.g. subscriber for a year), or a length of time after an action has been taken. This can be particularly powerful as it can show the time or day of the week in which a subscriber completes online activities; helping inform when they may complete an action in the future.

Implementing and automating personalisation
It’s one thing to want to personalise emails for recipients, but even the idea of beginning the process can be paralysing for some organisations. And while it can take effort to implement personalisation into email marketing and engagement campaigns, the increases in email engagement can pay for these efforts many times over.

Unlike traditional email blasts where a single email is sent to a list through a manual send, personalisation requires more a sophisticated mailing tool known as marketing automation software.

Marketing automation software provides many benefits over more basic email systems - or heaven forbid sending emails from your personal inbox - including:

  • Advanced segmentation of audiences based of demographics, psychographics, history, and online behaviour
  • Personalised content based on segment, dates and deadlines, or online behaviour
  • Dynamic emails where all or part of an email can be changed depending on known information about the recipient
  • Communications scheduled to be sent at the most effective time, including automated and triggered messages
  • Detailed analytics and the ability to judge engagement levels at individual and campaign levels

Five steps to building your first personalisation campaign

All these features that come in a marketing automation box mean that emails and workflows need to be created in advance of a subscriber joining your list.

To begin planning your first personalisation campaign, simply follow the following five steps:

#1 Recognise your organisational capacity

In an ideal world, you would have a unique nurture path for every buyer persona for every product or service your organisation offers. But, even if you’re a Fortune 500 company, finding the resources to develop that amount of content can be next to impossible.

This is why it’s vitally important to begin your personalisation journey by being realistic. While the end goal is to have every prospect on their own unique journey, attempting this from day one will only result in heartbreak and your team being overwhelmed.

Instead, it can often be best to start with a handful, or just one, audience or product/service. Once this first personalisation journey is complete, you can rinse and repeat again and again until you have built out a complete picture of your prospects and existing customers.

#2 Define your audience(s)

Once you have determined how many audiences you're going to focus on, you will need to define each carefully.

How you define and segment your audience will depend greatly on your individual organisation and your products and services. Again, it can often be better to start simple than to drill down into complex segmentation straight away.

It can be tempting to dive straight in and build a segment for high-income earners over the age of 50 who have visited your website five times in a week and have their car registration due in a month. Simply starting with a segment for those with an upcoming registration renewal could provide valuable content to a much broader audience to begin, before further segmenting by other variables.

Types of segmentation

  • Demographic/geographic segmentations - are based on variables such as location, age, and gender. While generally the easiest type of variable to collect they also rely on the fact that individuals with similar profiles will have similar needs and attitudes.
  • Behavioural segmentations - are based on the past activities of a customer or prospect with your organisation through online channels or in-store. As behavioural variables look at history, it may take some time to collect enough information to place a subscriber into a segment. However, the nature of behavioural variables makes them perfect for triggered campaigns.
  • Psychographic segmentations -  are based on the activities, interests, and opinions. While easy - and fun - to create, it can sometimes be challenging to collect enough information about subscribers to place them into a psychographic-based segment.

While not exhaustive, below are examples of variables you may consider segmenting your audience.

Demographic / geographicLocationJob title
Family / organisation size
Role in purchase decision
BehaviouralDate of subscription
Email activity
Past engagement
Product interest
Category interests
Buyer readiness
Interaction frequency
Psychographic Purchase / usage intent

Values and attitudes
Lifestyle and interests

#3 Map their journey

Now you’ve defined your audience, it is time to get out the markers and butcher’s paper and map their journey with your organisation across their decision-making process. Ideally, your journey map will identify moments of truth, what the subscriber is feeling at the time, the channel they are using to find information, and any interactions they have with your organisation.

Remember, this should be unique for each of your audience segments and depending on your organisation also each of your products and services.

#4 Plan an achievable campaign

Now the fun really begins.

Having mapped the customer journey you now know their pain points to solve and where you can begin selling. Are they feeling overwhelmed trying to understand different service offerings? Send them a minimally branded service guide. Are they considering the pros and cons between you and your major competitor? Send a comparison article highlighting the awards your organisation has won and your higher online reviews.

It’s also here that you can identify points to trigger emails based on online and in-person actions. You may send a follow-up guide if a subscriber watches a how-to video, or get your customer service department to call if someone visits your help site many times in a day. Triggered emails can also be useful in closing sales, especially if you can offer discounts or deals to prospects who visit a product page or abandon their shopping cart without making a purchase.

Email campaign planning tips:

  • Emails and content should speak to the recipient - show them how you’re the perfect solution to their problem through thought leadership and third-party verifications, don’t just talk about yourself.
  • Map email sends to the recipient’s stage in their journey - don’t sell before they are ready to buy.
  • Trigger emails where possible, and use online behaviour to further segment and personalise your messages.
  • Use your journey map to predict future questions and objections and answer them with content before they arise.
  • Walk your prospect through the sales process when they are ready to buy and reduce friction as much as possible.
  • Make sure your campaign is achievable with your current resources - a small campaign with high-quality content that achieves results is the best way to start building your personalisation efforts.

#5 Continue to develop

The work doesn’t stop once your personalised campaigns are up and running. Regardless of how well you’ve segmented your audience and mapped their journey, not every email will be a home run and it’s essential to cut out those which aren’t resonating with your audience.

Once you have completed the process once and understand what is involved, you can repeat the process with your next segment until you have developed campaigns for all of your customers.


Regardless of where you start, taking the time to understand your audience and mapping their key moments that matter will see your engagement skyrocket. Even something as small as basic audience segmentation can make the difference between an engaged recipient receiving relevant content and just feeling like they’re on the end of a “select all” email blast.

If you’d like help segmenting your audience and mapping their journey, contact us to see how our Marketing Automations Consultants can help your organisation. Whether it’s workshop facilitation or a complete done-for-you package, we can help you take your engagement to the next level and provide personalised communication to your entire audience.


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